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February 28, 2023 | Tom Ballard

New women’s leadership program coming to Knoxville region

Catherine Porth, Founder of Let Her Speak, is launching a new initiative called Let Her Lead. It will be a dual cohort with one program focused on aspiring leaders and the other targeting those who are already recognized as established leaders.

Catherine Porth, who launched the nonprofit named Let Her Speak with a signature inaugural event in March 2018 (see article here), is building on the success of that initiative that is focused on helping women be successful in business with a new program.

Named Let Her Lead, the newest effort from Porth is a dual cohort program – one component that is designed to help what she describes as “aspirational leaders, not just up and coming,” and the other that is focused on women who are recognized as business leaders.

“It’s a program that does not exist anywhere, based on my research,” Porth says of the initiative that has been a priority of hers for the past two years. It is a direct result of a study she did, titled “State of Mind for Women in Business,” where more than 300 individuals provided both quantitative and qualitative input on topics like defining success, identifying barriers, establishing goals, and identifying needed support.

“Let Her Lead” will run for 12 weeks with three, four-week modules. During their involvement, aspiring leaders will work on establishing a foundation of confidence, communication skills, and financial literacy, while established leaders will grow their skillsets in empathetic leadership, active listening, and unconscious bias.

Porth (pictured right) says that each participant will be matched with a professional coach who is ICF certified and carries significant experience in leadership development. The goal is to not only have an “outside-the-program” perspective for participants, but also a safe space for discussion and a connection to women outside their immediate community.

There will also be times when the two cohorts will come together for joint activities. Then, at the end of the 12-week period, people in the community will be invited to a storytelling event where cohort participants will share their stories and vision for how they can create a positive impact using their unique skills and position.

As she prepares to launch her latest effort during Q3 of 2023, Porth is following a key piece of advice that she shares with those she mentors, namely make sure that the content is what the customer wants, needs, and will buy.

So, through the first half of the year, Porth says she will be testing each of the modules with small groups of participants – no more than six at a time.

When it is rolled out later this year, “Let Her Lead” will be underwritten in part by the Schaad Family Foundation. In addition, those deemed established leaders will pay tuition with part of those funds earmarked to provide a scholarship for “aspirational leaders” to pursue their individual leadership goals and keep the program accessible.

“I’ve been a part of a lot of different leadership programs,” she says, citing working in corporate America for a decade. “There’s not enough representation of women. I’m a problem solver, and that’s a problem that needs to be addressed.”

Porth moved to Knoxville to earn her MBA at the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she also served as a Graduate Assistant. Today, she’s not only the mastermind behind “Let Her Speak,” but also the Director of Insights and Development for the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

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